Awardee Feature Story: Kendra Renae Pullen
For 35 years, the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) have been rewarding and inspiring great teaching.
The award, which honors up to 108 teachers each year, recognizes those teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning. Since the program’s inception, more than 4,700 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.
One of those teachers is Kendra “Renae” Pullen, an educator of 18 years. After returning home from the award recognition events in Washington, D.C., Renae says she found her voice through PAEMST. Her previous “business as usual” attitude rapidly faded away. Renae became eager to expand her current leadership roles and identify new opportunities, such as becoming a Certified Endorsed Teacher Leader with the Louisiana State Department of Education. She took on the additional role of Adjunct Professor for Louisiana Technical University in Teacher Leadership.
Since then, Renae has gone on to participate in national teacher leadership opportunities, receiving several grants, publishing articles, winning additional awards, and more. Her enthusiasm for ensuring the quality education of all students is apparent in all that she undertakes. In 2011, she participated in the White House Champions of Change Event: Women & Girls in STEM. In 2014, she was a convocation participant in the Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership conference, and began working as a member of the Teacher Advisory Council for the National Academies of Science. Through all of these experiences, one question continues to guide Renae: “Our profession needs a voice, why not mine?”
Renae was not selected as an awardee the first time she applied for PAEMST. It was after her second application submission that she was named the Louisiana science awardee. “After I submitted the application the first time,” she says, “I realized that this was something I could do, something I could win!” Renae says “The second time around, I was prepared and excited to apply.” Her advice for teachers considering applying: “Be really clear in how you communicate. Be reflective. This is your story as a teacher – the wonderful teacher that you are – but be honest in your approach and assessment, and it will come through for you.”
About PAEMST: Established by Congress in 1983, the program is the nation’s highest honors for K-12 teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science) and has since honored more than 4,700 teachers who excel in their fields. The National Science Foundation (NSF) administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
PAEMST is currently accepting nominations and applications for the 2017-2018 cycle. Anyone – principals, teachers, parents, students, and general public – may nominate an exceptional mathematics or science teacher. This year’s program is for K-6th grade teachers. The nomination deadline is April 1, 2018, and the application deadline is May 1, 2018. Awardees receive a certificate signed by the President, a trip to Washington, D.C., and a $10,000 award from NSF.